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By Matthew G. Kadey, M.Sc., R.D. Image by Gregg Segal Published 03/01/2010

Read the surprising truth about 14 popular diet strategies that just don't work—and find out which ones will actually help you take the next BIG step towards slimming down for good.

 

THE MYTH:
TO LOSE WEIGHT, CUT CARBS OR FAT

THE TRUTH:
Most get-thin-fast plans revolve around the idea that restricting your intake of one particular nutrient, usually carbs or fat, is the best way to lose weight. But the results of a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine study suggest otherwise. For two years, participants followed one of four calorie-restricted diets with varying amounts of carbs, protein, and fat. After 24 months, all participants lost about the same amount of weight (just nine pounds). "This study proves that calories are the most important factor for weight loss," says Tara Gidus, R.D., a Florida-based sports dietitian and marathoner. "To lose weight, you need to take in fewer calories than you burn—regardless of what percentage of carbs, protein, or fat you're eating." Gimmicky diets just distract us from this simple truth. Here's how runners can learn to reduce their total caloric intake to kick start weight loss—and still have energy to run their best.

1 FIND YOUR CALORIE BURN
To estimate the number of calories you use during daily living and exercise, go to nutritiondata.com/tools/caloriesburned. Plug in your sex, age, weight, height, lifestyle (meaning, you're deskbound, or you're always moving at work), and exercise regularity.
2 START SUBTRACTING
Trim 10 to 15 percent off of that calorie total—but don't cut more than 500 calories per day. "This is conservative compared to most diets, but it's realistic if you want to sustain training," says Gidus. Record what you eat, and tally your calorie intake with the huge database at nutritiondata.com.
3 KEEP UP THE EXERCISE
A recent study reported that subjects who cut calories or cut calories and exercised lost the same amount of weight. But the diet-and-exercise group improved their aerobic capacity, insulin sensitivity, cholesterol, and blood pressure—without having to go into starvation model
4 BE PATIENT
Gidus says a healthy weight-loss goal for overweight runners is one to two pounds a week. "Trying to drop more than this can eat away at muscle, leave you fatigued when you run, and slow your metabolism, making weight loss more challenging," she says.

The Runner's Diet
A smart weight-loss plan starts with these nutritious foods

CARBS
How Much: 50 to 55 percent of total calories
Why You Need It: The body prefers carbs as the main fuel source when you run, so they should be the cornerstone of a runner's diet.
Where To Get It: Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils are rich in complex carbs and fiber (both slow digestion and supply a steady stream of energy), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that speed recovery and protect against diseases.

FAT
How Much: 25 to 30 percent of total calories
Why You Need It: You need this nutrient to absorb fat-soluble vitamins; foods high in fat also keep you satisfied, so you eat less.
Where To Get It: Nuts, seeds, and avocados are rich in heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil contains oleic acid, and may help suppress your appetite. Other healthy choices include canola, grapeseed, flaxseed, and hempseed oils.
PROTEIN
How Much: 15 to 25 percent of total calories
Why You Need It: Protein speeds muscle repair and recovery. High-protein foods are satisfying and take longer to digest.
Where To Get It: Cuts of beef and pork labeled "loin" and skinless poultry have a healthy protein-to-fat ratio. Fatty fish are rich in omega-3s. Tofu is a lean protein source, while low-fat dairy like milk and yogurt provide calcium. Eggs are loaded with vitamins A, K, and D.




THE MYTH:
EXERCISE IN THE FAT-BURNING ZONE

THE TRUTH:
The "fat-burning zone" lies between 50 and 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. When you exercise at this low intensity, your body draws energy from fat. As your heart rate goes up, more energy comes from carbs. So it seems logical that to lose fat you should keep your heart rate low, says Jason Karp, Ph.D., owner of Runcoachjason.com. But that's not the case.
"Running at higher intensities causes you to burn a lower percentage of fat calories in favor of carbs," says Karp, "but you use more total calories." And that's the key to slimming down. Plus, since you torch more total calories, the absolute amount of fat burned actually increases, too. So it pays to pick up the pace.
Of course, lower intensity exercise still has its place. Long, slow runs build aerobic fitness and endurance. But to kickstart a pokey metabolism, you need intensity. Karp suggests interval training (condensed runs that mix in intense efforts with recovery) because studies have found these workouts burn more calories during and after exercise (see "Torch Calories" below for Karp's interval workout). "It also cuts down on boredom," he says, "which makes it more likely you'll stick with your program."

Torch Calories
High-intensity intervals will help you win the battle of the bulge.

ON THE TRACK: Warm up for 10 minutes. Run 800 meters, aiming to finish the interval at 90 to 95% of your max heart rate. After a two-minute recovery jog, repeat two more times, then cool down for 10 minutes. Add an 800-meter interval every two weeks until you reach six.
ON A TREADMILL:Warm up for 10 minutes. Run for five minutes with treadmill at 1% incline at a speed that hits 90 to 95% of your max heart rate. After a two-minute recovery jog, repeat two more times. Cool down for 10 minutes. Add one interval every two weeks until you reach six.
ANAEROBIC CAPACITY: Warm up for 10 minutes. Do six 400-meter runs (or about 90 seconds on a treadmill) at your mile race pace or slightly faster. The interval should be considerably faster than the previous workouts. Between each interval, complete a two-minute recovery jog.
TO GAUGE MAX HEART RATE: Run four laps on a track with each lap getting faster. On last lap, sprint as hard as you can. Check your heart-rate monitor. The highest number will be close to your max.


THE MYTH:
LIFT LESS WEIGHT WITH MORE REPS TO GET TONED

THE TRUTH:
Runners who want to look lean and toned often skip heavy barbells in favor of lighter weights with lots of repetitions. But that won't give us the physique we're after. To get toned, you need larger muscles and less fat. "And challenging your body through heavier lifting is a big part of this equation," says Monica Vazquez, a USATF running coach and master trainer with New York Sports Clubs. In fact, a study at Georgia Southern University determined lifting 85 percent of your maximum ability for eight reps burns about twice as many calories in the two hours postworkout compared with 15 reps at 45 percent max. And don't worry: Lifting heftier iron won't transform you into a bodybuilder; achieving that look requires eating a high-calorie diet and a long-term power-lifting regimen. "If you're creating a calorie deficit, you simply won't bulk up like a bodybuilder," says Vazquez.
You don't need to give up lighter weights--they do a better job at improving muscular endurance. "A solid resistance program should include periods of both high and low reps," says Vazquez. She suggests doing higher reps (12 to 15) and lower weights for about four weeks and then switch to lifting heavier weights for fewer reps (eight to 10). "Alternate month-to-month after that to keep the stress on the body constantly changing." Muscle responds to resistance, so if it's too light, you won't see good results. "You should struggle to eek out those last few reps," she says.

 

THE MYTH:
YOU CAN "MAKE UP" WEEKEND SPLURGES

THE TRUTH:
The two S-days represent about 30 percent of the week, so too many slip-ups will put you on bad terms with the scale. Case in point: Dieters in a 2008 study dropped pounds during the week, but stopped losing weight on the weekend because they ate too much. "By feasting on whatever you want on the weekend, you'll cancel out five days' worth of healthy eating," says Felicia Stoler, R.D., nutrition coordinator for the New York City Marathon.

When it comes to shedding pounds, consistency is key. "Aim to consume a similar number of calories on Tuesday as you would Saturday," says Stoler. She suggests weighing yourself Friday and again Monday. "Any weight gain is a sign you shouldn't have eaten the extra slice of pizza." To prevent bad choices, see "Survive the Weekend" (below).


SURVIVE THE WEEKEND
Stay on track by avoiding diet traps.

THINK AHEAD
When traveling to races, Stoler suggests bringing your own healthy edibles like oatmeal and trail mix.
WRITE IT DOWN
Studies show that keeping a food journal can help you lose almost double the weight of nonwriters.
DON'T SKIP YOUR CHEERIOS
Research suggests people who grab a hearty morning meal daily eat fewer calories later in the day.
GIVE IN
Have a few treats during the week. "Once Saturday comes, you won't feel the desire to binge," says Stoler.
GET COOKING
Use the weekend to flex your culinary muscles and cook up a new dish, such as Grilled Salmon with Lentil Tabouli.

THE MYTH:
YOU HAVE TO BAN "BAD" FOODS

THE TRUTH:
Runners trying to slim down often try to cut out all indulgent foods—but eventually, this approach usually backfires. "If you're following an overly restrictive diet, you're more likely to go overboard on your vices," says Lisa Dorfman, R.D., director of sports nutrition and performance for UHealth at the University of Miami. In fact, a 2009 National Academy of Sciences paper found flip-flopping between a diet that includes sweet treats and one that banishes them (in other words, yo-yo dieting) activates the brain's stress system, making you want to gorge even more.
So before you say sayonara to your favorite foods, ask yourself: "Can I live without cheesecake (or potato chips) forever?" The answer is probably no. "Losing pounds and keeping them off," says Dorfman, "depends on learning to balance your diet without depriving yourself, and eating in a way you can maintain." She suggests runners follow an 80-20 rule. "Eat great 80 percent of the time, and allow room for small treats the other 20 percent." As long as you're reducing your overall intake, you don't need to nix any one food from your diet.

THE MYTH:
EATING AT NIGHT CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN

THE TRUTH:
Many runners believe their metabolism plummets later in the day, which is when we often overeat nutritionally corrupt foods. But a calorie is a calorie no matter when you eat it, says Gidus. "As long as you don't take in more calories than you burn in a day, you won't gain weight." Gidus adds that overeating at 9 p.m. is essentially no worse than overeating at 9 a.m. "You may have a slightly higher metabolism earlier in the day, but the impact on weight loss is likely trivial."
And if you train in the evening, noshing at night is a must: "You have to eat a well-balanced meal to encourage recovery no matter how late it is," says Gidus. As long as you don't gorge, you're not in danger of gaining weight. But if you routinely spend too much time with Ben and Jerry at night, you're going to sabotage your efforts. Follow Gidus's advice in "Stealth Health" to ensure you keep nighttime eating under control.


STEALTH HEALTH
How to ward off nighttime overeating

SNACK IN THE AFTERNOON
A lot of people don't eat enough after lunch, leaving them ravenous at night. Gidus suggests having whole-grain crackers and low-fat cheese, or plain yogurt with fruit midafternoon to avoid getting intimate with Haagen-Dazs later.
GET POPPING
Try low-fat popcorn for nighttime finger food. It's a high-fiber whole grain, and one cup has just 31 calories.
EAT FOOD IN THE KITCHEN
A study in the journal Appetite reported you're more likely to overindulge when parked in front of the boob tube, which distracts you from noticing how much you're eating.
WALK THIS WAY
Researchers in the United Kingdom found that a 15-minute walk weakened chocolate cravings in people who abstained for three days. Make an after dinner stroll routine.
PLAN MEALS
Coming home famished after a workout without a dinner plan can lead to grabbing the nearest bag of Doritos. Having a meal made ahead of time you can easily heat up or a few quick go-to recipes can ensure you make healthy choices.

THE MYTH:
LOW-FAT FOODS ARE A HEALTHY CHOICE

THE TRUTH:
Ironically, eating low-fat foods has helped make the nation look more like the Pillsbury Doughboy. Reason being, a low-fat or reduced-fat item may have nearly as many calories as a higher-fat version because ingredients like sugar often replace the fat to make the product taste better, says Dorfman. Plus, low-fat foods can still contain unhealthy saturated or trans fats—both of which may increase your risk of heart disease.
What's more, a Journal of Marketing Research study determined that people ate 28 percent more chocolate candies if the treats were portrayed as "low-fat" rather than "regular." The researchers concluded that low-fat labels (like those on cookies and fruit-flavored yogurts) cause people to underestimate calorie consumption, increase the amount we eat, and temper the guilt of polishing o" a box of reduced-fat Oreos. "Some people see the term 'fat-free' and use it as a green light to eat as much of it as they want," says Dorfman. "This leads to overconsuming calories." And that, no surprise, leads to weight gain.


Diet Busters
Cut back on "runner-friendly" foods
DIET SODAS
A 2009 study found adults who drink diet sodas often are more likely to be overweight and develop diabetes.
WINE
It has health benefits, but also packs lots of calories. If you're trying to slim down, keep it to one drink daily.
WHITE PASTA
It's low in fiber and nutrients. Choose whole-grain versions most often.
ENERGY DRINKS AND BARS
They contain added sugar (i.e., empty calories), so scale back.
CHOCOLATE
A single ounce has about 160 calories. Limit yourself to that much (and choose dark varieties) per day.

THE MYTH:
WEIGHT LIFTING WILL ONLY BULK YOU UP

THE TRUTH:
Many runners blow off weights for cardio—a bigger calorie burner. They're also afraid of getting bulky while trying to slim down. But Vazquez, who lost 65 pounds with the help of strength training, says runners who want to slim down need to pump iron. "It makes you stronger and builds endurance," says Vazquez, "so you can run longer and harder, burning more calories for weight loss." Since muscle is denser than fat, you'll also shave inches off your body and look leaner.
Plus, cutting calories can lead to losing lean body mass, and weight lifting helps preserve muscle, which is more metabolically active than fat. "It takes extra calories just to keep muscle," says Vazquez. In fact, studies suggest strength training may boost resting metabolic rate by as much as seven percent. And you don't need to live at the gym to get results. A 2009 study found just 11 minutes of weight training three times a week will boost daily energy expenditure. To get started, see the routine below.


LIFT WEIGHT TO LOSE WEIGHT
Shed pounds faster with this strength-training routine
SPEED WEIGHT LOSS, build strength, and improve running performance with this workout, developed by Monica Vazquez, running coach for Asics Fun Run in New York City. Do the routine two to three times per week with at least one rest day in between. Begin with two to three sets of each exercise with 15 reps, using a challenging weight. After four weeks, switch to a heavier weight and complete three sets with eight to 10 reps. Every four to six weeks, alternate between less weight, more reps and more weight, fewer reps. As you build up stamina, reduce the rest period between exercises to increase calorie burn.
1 SINGLE-LEG DEADLIFTS TO SHOULDER PRESS
Stand on one leg, holding dumbbells by your side. Slightly bend knee with your back straight; bend forward, keeping weights by your sides. Slowly stand up, keeping a straight posture. Once completed, curl arms into a shoulder press. Bring weights back to your sides. Repeat on the other side.
2 LUNGE WITH OVERHEAD TRICEPS EXTENSION
Stand in a lunge position holding one dumbbell overhead with both hands. Keeping your elbows shoulder-width apart, bend them and lower the weight behind your head as you lunge down. Li! the weight up as you straighten your legs. Do half the set with one leg in front and then switch sides.
3 PUSHUP TO JACKKNIFE
Roll forward on a ball so that your arms are in a pushup position and the ball is under the tops of your shins. Then, lift your hips up and bring your knees into your chest. Ideally, your hips will be directly over your shoulders. Bring your legs back to the starting position, then do a pushup. Keep alternating pushups and jackknifes.
4 BALL SQUATS TO BICEPS CURL
Place the stability ball in the curve of your lower back, then lean against a wall, holding dumbbells in both hands. With feet about hip-width apart, squat down (using the support of the ball and the wall behind you) and simultaneously do a biceps curl. When you squat down, your legs should form a 90-degree angle. Hold for a moment, then return to the starting position.
5 BALL PULLOVERS WITH HIP RAISES
Position yourself on a stability ball with your head and neck supported on the ball like a pillow and your body in a tabletop position. Your feet should be under your knees, hip-width apart. Keeping arms straight, as if you've just completed a chest press, lower arms behind you and over your head until your upper arms are even with your ears. Slowly bring them back to the starting position. Then, lower your hips toward the ground and back up. Keep alternating pullovers and hip raises. You can also balance a dumbbell on your hips for an extra challenge.

THE MYTH:

RUNNING ON EMPTY IS A SMART WAY TO BURN EXTRA FAT

THE TRUTH:
In theory, because your blood sugar and muscle carbohydrate levels are low after an overnight fast, running before breakfast forces your body to use fat as its main fuel. "But exercising on an empty stomach is like trying to run your car without gas," says Stoler. "You need carbs in your system to start your engine and to keep it going strong to burn more total calories." Not only do muscles prefer to run on carbs, but so does your brain. "Exercising with brain fog reduces intensity and increases injury risk," says Stoler. She suggests fueling up with 100 to 200 calories (of easily digestible carbs like fruit juice, yogurt, or dried fruit) about 30 minutes before a morning workout. "This also cuts down on postexercise hunger and curbs overeating," she adds.


THE MYTH:
YOU CAN SPOT-REDUCE FAT

THE TRUTH:
Many runners spend too much of their gym time doing a bazillion crunches in pursuit of rock-solid abs or banging out hundreds of reps on the inner and outer thigh machines to melt away stubborn fat pockets. But the only way you can spotreduce is with liposuction. "When you exercise, your body taps into energy stores from everywhere, not just one place," says exercise physiologist Pete McCall, a trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. McCall adds that by overexercising one area of your body, you raise the risk of suffering an injury. "It's good to have a strong core, but too many crunches can overtighten abdominals and lead to back problems." McCall suggests targeting a particular body part no more than three times a week, and focusing on a balanced full-body program. "This will help create a calorie deficit, and ultimately that's the only thing that's going to slim those thighs and trim your belly."


The Burning Question: Just how many calories did that workout torch?

Many of us think running burns 100 calories per mile—but this is only true if you weigh 139 pounds. To calculate your burn per mile, multiply your weight in pounds by .72. A 175-pound runner burns 126 calories per mile; a 120-pound runner burns just 86. And if you run faster, you don't burn more calories per mile--but you do burn more per minute.

The number this formula yields is your "gross" calorie burn. But it can be deceptive: Even if you didn't run at all, you'd still burn calories. A 150-pound person burns about 68 calories an hour doing nothing. This is your basal metabolic rate, or BMR. When you subtract your BMR from your gross burn, you get your "net" burn. If you're trying to maximize your burning e# ciency, compare the net burn per minute of various activities. Walking burns far fewer calories per minute than running because it doesn't require as much effort. But cyclists can go so fast that air resistance becomes a factor. Thus, cycling 24 mph burns much more than double the calories of cycling 12 mph.

Below is the gross calorie burn per mile and net calorie burn per minute of various activities. As noted, it's the second number that gives the truest picture of an activity's calorie-burning efficiency—that is, how to get the max from the minimum time investment.—Amby Burfoot

Running 5 mph (12:00 pace)
Gross Calories Burned Per Mile: 108
Net Calories Burned Per Min: 7.87
Running 10 mph (6:00 pace)
Gross Calories Burned Per Mile: 108
Net Calories Burned Per Min: 16.87
Walking 3 mph (20:00 pace)
Gross Calories Burned Per Mile: 85
Net Calories Burned Per Min: 3.12
Cycling 16 mph
Gross Calories Burned Per Mile: 18.57
Net Calories Burned Per Min: 3.82
Cycling 23 mph
Gross Calories Burned Per Mile: 36.2
Net Calories Burned Per Min: 13.35
Swimming 2.56 mph (1.46 mins/100)
Gross Calories Burned Per Mile: 330
Net Calories Burned Per Min: 12.95
*activity for 150-pound person

 

THE MYTH:

LONGER EXERCISE SESSIONS EQUAL BETTER RESULTS

THE TRUTH:
Running for an hour straight is a great calorie burner and will undoubtedly help runners shed pounds. But you might actually accrue more fitness and fat loss by occasionally breaking that hour-long workout into two half-hour runs or three 20- minute sessions, says kinesiologist Greg McMillan, an online coach at mcmillanrunning.com. "A person may run at a harder pace if tackling two shorter runs instead of a single longer one," says McMillan, "so the cumulative calorie burn could be greater." A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that healthy men who performed two separate 30- minute aerobic sessions burned more calories postworkout compared with a single 60-minute trial.

McMillan often prescribes same-day split sessions to help his clients overcome time constraints and boredom, and accumulate the same training volume with less injury risk. He suggests doing a steady-pace, moderate-intensity run for one session and a more intense calorie burner, like interval training or hill running, the second time. Conversely, try a high-intensity morning run followed by an after-work weight-training session.


THE MYTH:
YOU CAN'T OVERCOME YOUR GENES

THE TRUTH:
Yes, some people are more predisposed to have a slower metabolism. Others put on weight more easily or carry extra pounds in certain areas. Even so, staying slim is not a hopeless battle. You can outsmart your genes and maintain a healthy weight. Case in point: A 2009 Finnish study published in the International Journal of Obesity tracked 16 same-sex twin pairs (chosen because they had the same genetic makeup) for decades and found that the twin who had been more physically active over a 32-year period accumulated 50 percent less belly fat than the twin who didn't exercise. The takeaway? By running and exercising regularly, you're already a step ahead in winning the battle against the bulge.

Run It Off
A week of weight-loss-boosting exercises

MON: Full-body strength-training
TUE: A.M. 4- to 5-mile moderate, steady-pace run P.M. 30- to 40-minute interval-training workout
WED: Rest day
THU: 45-60 minutes cycling, rowing, swimming, or other aerobic activity
FRI: A.M. 30- to 40-minute interval-training workout; P.M. Full-body strength training routine
SAT: Rest day
SUN: Long, slow run (twice as long as any midweek run)

THE MYTH:
KEEPING IT OFF IS THE EASY PART

THE TRUTH:
Many people think maintaining weight loss is easier than losing it in the first place. But a 2008 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine proves you have to be diligent. The researchers discovered that overweight subjects who had slimmed down over two years required an average of 40 minutes of exercise per day just to sustain a loss of 10 percent or more of their initial body weight. And that was in addition to closely watching what they ate. Those who committed less time to sweating it out or none at all were more likely to be back where they started. "Weight loss is not something that happens and then you're done with it," says McMillan. "That's why quick-fix programs hardly ever work long term." To stay motivated after you drop pounds, join a running group, sign up for cooking lessons, or splurge on a trainer who can refresh a stale exercise program.

 

THE MYTH:
HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IS MORE FATTENING THAN SUGAR

THE TRUTH:
High-fructose corn syrup (or HFCS) has been singled out as a main cause of America's obesity crisis. But both HFCS and sucrose—better known as table sugar—are very close in chemical composition, and neither type of sweetener offers any nutritional value—apart from empty waist-thickening calories. That's why Felicia Stoler, R.D., advises runners to consume both sweeteners very modestly. "You'd likely become just as pudgy from eating an excessive amount of foods that contain regular sugar as you would from eating foods that contain an excessive amount of high-fructose corn syrup," she says. Runners should read labels carefully and scale back their intake of highly sweetened foods, "including sodas, energy drinks, baked goods, cereals, and even sports drinks," says Stoler. If you need to satisfy a sweet tooth, she suggests doing so shortly after a run when your muscles quickly soak up the sugar to replace spent energy stores.

THE MYTH:
A FAST-FOOD SANDWICH IS ALWAYS A HEALTHIER CHOICE OVER A FAST-FOOD BURGER

THE TRUTH:
Both can be equally damaging to your weight-loss efforts. A 2007 Cornell University study published in the *Journal of Consumer Research* found that people consistently underestimate the calorie content of foods served at restaurants they see as "healthier" (like Subway), and in doing so are more likely to order calorie bomb sides such as large sodas and cookies. But eating out in general—not just at fast-food joints—can put a damper on your weight-loss efforts. University of Texas researchers found that the dieters they studied consumed up to 253 extra calories and 16 additional grams of fat on the days that they ate out. The takeaway? Trade in eating out for more home cooking. "Preparing your own meals gives you a better shot at controlling calorie intake," says Lisa Dorfman, R.D., "and it lets you choose more nutrient-rich ingredients." Many chain restaurants put nutritional information on their Web sites, so if you do plan on eating out, Dorfman suggests checking out their nutritional stats to find the healthiest choices.

THE MYTH:
WALKING WON'T DO MUCH TO HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT

THE TRUTH:
Walking may not boost your PR, but taking extra steps every day can have an important cumulative calorie-burning effect, says Pete McCall, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. A 2009 study in the *American Journal of Clinical Nutrition* found that healthy adults ages 19 to 30 who were car-happy gained up to 15 pounds more over a 15-year period than those who used their own two feet more often to get around. To motivate yourself to walk more, invest in a pedometer. A 2007 study in the *Journal of the American Medical Association* determined that using a pedometer can lead to significant decreases in body-mass index and blood pressure. "Aim for 10,000 steps daily," advises McCall. "That's two and half miles of walking, which means you'll burn an extra 250 calories everyday." You can boost your chances of reaching the 10,000-step goal by walking to a coworker's cubicle instead of e-mailing, trading in the elevator for the stairs, and parking at the farthest corner of the mall lot.


THE MYTH:
THE TREADMILL ACCURATELY CALCULATES YOUR CALORIE BURN

THE TRUTH:
If you run on a treadmill, sway on an elliptical, or pedal a stationary bike, the number of calories you *actually* burn can be 10 to 15 percent lower than what's displayed on the screen. That's because most machines don't take into account percent body fat, height, sex, age, resting heart rate, or if someone is holding onto the handles, which reduces workload, says McCall. Also, the mechanical assistance of machines allows your body to do less work. That doesn't mean you should totally ignore an exercise machine's stats. Use the calorie readout as a barometer of your progress. If the number goes up from one session to the next for the same workout, you know you're working harder toward your weight-loss goals.

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